This excerpt is a follow up to last week’s post on relaxation. I’ve spent quite a bit of time working on my impatient mindset lately. I’m a therapist in Washington, DC who works with teens, couples, and adults, and I often recommend that clients practice mindfulness skills, or some form of meditation. Yet, here’s the deal. I F^*King Hate to Meditate! Without the profanity, I admit this to clients, yet still prescribe it. Why? Because I know that I need it, and so do they.
We all need to learn to quiet our busy minds. Experts state that any amount meditation is the target goal. Did you know that 1 minute of meditation is good enough? And that 8 minutes of meditation is beneficial? And that only 27 minutes of meditation is optimal? We live in a world now where calling someone makes us impatient, and leaving a voicemail message can be irritating; we’d rather text or instant message someone. We have busy work and school lives. We struggle to find time to connect or catch up with friends. We sign our kids up for activities six months in advance. We occupy every second of our time with news or media. And, all of that activity and information leaves us anxious and overloaded.
Even though I kind of hate to admit it, I finally believe that meditation is part of the answer. Without the presence of inspiring thoughtful leaders, our world needs more reflective citizens. We need to grow a generation of mindful youth, and nurture more responsive parents and leaders. Meditation is one tool to decrease reactivity and increase emotional skills through awareness, relaxation and reflection.
For me, meditation is extremely challenging. Sitting there, my mind gets busy. And then, I get interested in the busyness of my mind….Next, I get “judgey” about how distracted my mind is. Finally, I become frustrated rather than relaxed. Oh my!
Thankfully, I’ve remained determined and I’ve continued to try different forms of meditation–traditional meditation, guided imagery practices, yoga nidra, mindfulness-based stress reduction, chanting meditation, labyrinth or walking meditations, mandala meditations, and active meditations while drawing, running, swimming etc. Good news! There are so so many! I’ll admit, a lot of the time, I’m bored and impatient. I try it for awhile. Then within a week or two, I quit.
I’ve come to learn that it is important to match a person’s personality when prescribing a meditation practice. It is also important to have a variety of forms of meditation to draw from, depending on the need. Here’s my latest combination that I think will stick–daily chanting meditation or guided meditations (my favorite meditation app is Simple Habit but others are good too–Headspace, Calm, Pacifica) with once weekly Bikram Yoga, or hot yoga, which is an intense moving meditation. For me, I need to have a really intense experience that beats down my busy mind and eventually forces relaxation in my body. I find myself in a 90 minute hot yoga class….thinking, thinking, thinking, and eventually I’ll hear myself think, “OKAAY, I’ll relax!” I also need to have a varied meditation practice that fits different times, places and needs in my daily life. Simple Habit offers meditations that vary in time (2, 5, 10, 15, 20 minutes), purpose (sleep, parenting, distress, mood, etc), format (guided, music, sounds), and topic (couples communication, anxiety reduction, etc.).
So here’s my final self-prescribed advice on meditating. Shake it up–Try many forms—Match meditation type to your personality and needs—But, keep coming back!! We need it, and our world needs it~